Athletes and spectators have converged on Rio for the XXXI Olympiad that launches today. While athletes push their bodies to breaking point to compete for gold and glory, here’s a list of great games that captures that competitive spirit and can all be enjoyed from the comfort and less physically strenuous environment of your living room.
Track & Field
This gem was originally released in the arcade in 1983. Track & Field was developed by Konami, back when they still made games. It features the events: 100-meter dash, long jump, 110-meter hurdles, hammer throw and high jump. The arcade cabinet could support up to 4 players, two at a time. Events required you to press two buttons repeatedly to build speed and press or hold a third to perform an action, whether it be to jump or throw. Holding the button then releasing it would define the angle of a throw or jump.
Track & Field was ported to the Xbox 360 in 2007 with updated graphics and sounds, leaderboards, and online play. The game also appears in Konami’s Arcade Hits for Nintendo DS. Track & Field was released in Japan in 1984 under the name Hyper Olympics which also featured the events swimming, archery, and skeet shooting. Track & Field is credited with inventing the athletics genre as it was the first of its kind and although technology has come a long way, many modern games still feature the button-mashing control scheme.
Technically not Olympics events, whether they should be included is open for debate. Sportsfriends is a party sports game that features a collection of original games designed for local play between 2-4 players. There’s no AI or online play for this one. Sportsfriends features four games: BaraBariBall, Super Pole Riders, Hokra and Johann Sebastian Joust. BaraBariBall is a 2-D competitive fighting game where you score by dunking the ball in the opposing team’s goal. Lose a point by falling into the water. It’s a little like Super Smash Bros with a ball. Super Pole Riders is a unique blend of physics-based pole-vaulting and polo. You launch into the air and hit a ball tethered to a rope towards your goal. Sudden Death replaces the poles with giant hammers.
Hokra is a minimalist game of two-on-two basketball where you launch the ball across the screen, passing to the other player or rebounding off the edges of the screen to score in the corner pockets. Johann Sebastian Joust is the most bizarre. It ditches the TV altogether and instead has you moving around in real space trying to shake your opponent’s controller to knock them out of the game. This one’s best played with PlayStation Move controllers. Sportsfriends is available on PS4, PS3 and Steam.
Of course this one made the list. When was the last time you played it? Right now is the perfect time to pull the Wii out of the closet and get into some multiplayer action. Compete with up to three friends locally in tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing. As it was packaged with every Wii, not much explanation is required for this one. Wii Sports holds an infamous reputation for being the game that led to many injuries and broken TV screens. Most of us will have fond memories of this game but have since moved onto current gen consoles. As the Olympics come around every four years, maybe it’s time to build a four-year Wii tradition to celebrate the quirky yet innovative console.
Push Me Pull You
Wrestling is at Rio with 18 different events so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch (pun intended) to include a Push Me Pull You event. Push Me Pull You is a game where 2-4 players take on stretchy two-headed bodies to coil around each other and battle for control of a ball. It occurs in a round arena, similar to wrestling, although points are scored by forcing the ball to your side of the court and holding it until the timer expires.
Yes, this squelchy-mess of human skin is a sports game and a fun one at that. It looks and sounds gross but is nice and clean. Suitable for all ages. Four players can share the thumbsticks on two controllers for convenience and work together to stretch, poke and push the opponent for dominance of the ball. Push Me Pull You is available on PS4 and PC via Steam.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
The only official tie-in game for the Rio Olympics. Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a sports game for the Wii U, 3DS and can also be found in arcades. Featuring 21 playable characters each with unique stats who can compete in over 18 events including the usual track and field plus some first-time inclusions like Rugby 7s, BMX and Table Tennis. Miis are also playable with a diverse range of collectables to earn that grants access to costumes of the famous characters. There’s also a unique hub world called Copacabana Beach for you to explore.
The arcade version features a smaller selection of characters that can compete in 10 different events. The player uses twin joysticks and feet sensors to control their characters. The arcade version is suitable for up to 4 players if you are lucky enough to find four connected cabinets.
Have you played the arcade version of Mario and Sonic at Rio? What do you think should have made the list? Sound off in the comments below.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane